Life’s a TRip: Episode 4

By Ojijaak

After the small detour in the last episode, I intend to come back to the planned course. We still have some background to introduce before the TRip begins when detours become more the rule than the exception. Keep in mind that there are just two points fixed in time after departure.

I have written about how I was first attracted to British roadsters, and of how I redeemed my promise to own one. I add that that first MG led to two more new MG Bs, one new MG Midget, one almost new Austin Healey 3000, two Austin Healey Sprites, two well-used MG Bs, and two Triumph TR6s. Many of these I have since regretted having sold, but clearly, this list betrays a sort of insanity. I have been and still am just a bit wacko about Little British Cars. What did I do with them?

After the usual college follies in that first car, I discovered the fun of sports car clubs. I first joined one of these in 1971 or thereabouts. As I recall, there were about forty members, and the club centered on just three Indiana counties (read: small geographical area).

The planned agenda for this club was to sponsor two events each month in ten or eleven months of each year plus the monthly meeting. The solo events, autocross or gymkhana if you prefer, were not ordinarily scheduled in December or January. Rallies might be and most often were scheduled in every month but December. We had one hell of a good time; I recall only one mishap in which a member destroyed his MG – totally – as he rolled it down an embankment on a timed run after his right rear tire found some loose gravel as he was turning to the left under acceleration. No one was hurt, but the MG was toast.

There were rallies at night, too. Why else would there have been Marchal, Cibie, or Lucas driving lamps? My dedicated rally car would have had no problem lighting up the darkest corner of hell. It was not a good idea to forget to dip your headlights as you approached me when I was driving that little beast. I named him “Mike.” Why? No reason…

Beyond these club activities, my daily driver for the most part during a seven- or eight-year period was one of the MG Bs that I had purchased as new cars. The last of these was a 1972 model. His name was “Bobby.” Again, no reason. In those days, there was no particular significance to the names that I gave to my cars.

On the roads as well as in the clubs that I joined, it was common to see MGs, Triumphs, the beautiful Lotus Elan, Sunbeam Alpines and Tigers, various Austin Healeys, Jaguars, the Japanese Datsun 1600 and 2000 cars, and Fiats from Italy. I think that it may have been from these last that the Britishcopied the engineering concept called rust. It is possible that the Italians licensed rust to the Brits, too, I’m not really sure. TheBrits improved rust over the Italian prototype. There was a custom, a recognition of fraternity, of waving at one another as we met on the roads. I always refused to wave at Fiats…

Today both we and our cars are older. There are no fraternal waves exchanged, and far fewer encounters with other LBCs (or Japanese or Italian cars) except at shows or other events, and, in my part of the world, very few clubs. That is a shame.

I live about sixty miles from the nearest British car club, about 200 miles from the nearest MG club, and 400 miles from the nearest Triumph club. These folks, good people I am sure, generally host a monthly meeting and a monthly coffee and bullshit breakfast. That’s it.

It appears that once each summer or early autumn, they drive off for a weekend together with a show and some day drives. No autocross, no rallies, no daytrips. This is not exactly my idea of an active organization even though I am approaching Old Fart status. So…Polly and I have formed our own club: “Triunfo Solitario,” honoring the Spanish heritage of the American West. We are going to drive. We are going to go places and see things.

Next summer, if the schedule permits, we are going to visit Sonoma, possibly continuing north to visit the Oregon coast. We might drop in on local LBC club events should our visit to an area coincide with any, but that really does not matter. We are going to do the one thing that Triumphs were built to do:  We are going to drive on blue roads, and we are not going to wave at any Fiats. I still have rules.

I am sharing some time lapse photos of Polly’s progress through this spring. The good people at Macy’s Garage are moving forward.  All the photographs are theirs. These are not meant to be a complete record. They are just a few of the many moments that I consider highlights.

As has been stated previously, the tail of a TR6 is blacked out with a semi-gloss finish. To repaint a TR6 otherwise is heresy. Particularly offensive to me is a body colored tail.

Now tell the truth, don’t you see that same smile that I described before? Just with her teeth missing…

Another few weeks later, and Polly’s front bumper (with Sabrinas) and air dam are fitted.

When her body tub is fitted to the chassis for the final time, Polly starts to look a lot more like Polly.

The drivetrain is fitted to the rolling chassis. Polly also has new sneakers fitted to the factory original wheels.

Polly’s engine is fitted with a new exhaust header allowing her to exhale more fully and make a bit more power.

Polly’s heart, her engine, freshly rebuilt, is started on the test stand to run in her cam.

It is no small job to completely disassemble a car, inspect each small bit, and repair, replace, rebuild the components, and to do it all with the goal of perfection. This is not “Wheeler Dealers,” and projects such as those seen on television programs are not those that end in perfect examples. Instead, a restoration done by competent professionals is a process neither quick nor inexpensive. Should you ever undertake such a project, I advisethat you not insist upon either a completion date or cost. A shop that meets either or both will most often produce a car that has been shortcutted, but that’s your car and your call.

The result of a top quality restoration, whether you are able to complete some or all of it yourself, or turn it over to a real pro, is a car that wants to be driven. It deserves to be recognized in club events. “Put your hat on, Annie (the young woman), we’re goin’ for a ride.”

SPECIAL NOTE: It was my intent to submit this episode over the Memorial Day weekend. I was late. On Tuesday morning, May 28, news reached me that the Dayton, Ohio, area had been stricken by tornadoes. My immediate concern was not for Pollyas much as for the people at Macy’s Garage, their families, and friends, although I am not well-acquainted with any of them. Having heard nothing to the contrary, I presume that all have weathered the storms. All the same, I offer all that my positive thoughts may avail the people of western Ohio as well as all others who have been affected by bizarre weather events this winter and spring. Godspeed.


This episode’s rant:

I was among the America Online, AOL, pioneers. It was an inexpensive and more or less efficient method of communication among a group of us who worked in collaboration on text and image publication. That was in 1993.

More recently, AOL has become one of my most significant irritants. About six months ago, I requested that the service restore my ability to restrict email messages to those in my contact list. I received a response from a robot.

Next, I forwarded all my spam emails to AOL. That seems to have pissed somebody off, but then it was a week’s collection of about 250 messages. I got another robot response, a suggestion that I utilize their spam filters (which I was already doing) and, mysteriously, a second spam folder! Good thing, too, because my spam messages increased from about 10-12 per day to more than thirty. Coincidence? Yeah, right! TUI. 

I then migrated all my essential contacts and archived messages to other email accounts. I prepared to terminate AOL. However, I receive no spam messages in any of my other email accounts…zero. Were I to terminate AOL service, how would I ever know that beautiful Russian women want to date me (safely) as soon as I get rid of skin tags, invest in gold, explore Medicare plans, get some male enhancement products, buy a warranty on my roof, and complete the application for my guaranteed $40,000 loan?

If you are feeling spam-deprived, open an AOL account. I suppose that the AOL boffins are just not as bright as the spammer boffins; either that, or AOL wants to sell you some product that they say will block spam. Your choice. I have made mine.

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